Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Tucson Fine Dining: Bistro Phillipe

Since I am part of the Tucson food media, I get invited to experience new restaurants occasionally.

Here’s the skinny on Bistro Phillipe which is under the direction of Phillipe Trosch who has cooked around Tucson as well as the world. Before starting Bistro Phillipe he was at the helm of the Five Diamond Loews Ventana Resort.

I once ate at the top-notch Ventana Room where Chef Trosch made the most delicious caviar toast points and soft boiled eggs presented as a side car of sorts. My description doesn’t do it justice but it was the most delicious way to incorporate basic ingredients. We also drank French champagne. Perfect and memorable in every way.

But back to Bistro Phillipe where the prices are much more down to earth than the Ventana Room.

I drank the house wine, Bistro pinot noir for $6 and it was appropriately smooth and satisfying.

Because I was with other food writers, we tasted many things including the octopus carpaccio. Never would I ever have chosen this appetizer but when I go back, I will most certainly order it. Other appetizers include the half avocado filled with shrimp remoulade, seasonal mushrooms and cheese board. We also shared the French crepe with leek, mushroom, and parmesan sauce.

Everything tasted fresh and out of the ordinary yet down to earth. Appetizers hover between the $6 to $10. I can see ordering a bunch of appetizers and a glass of wine.

I wasn’t eating bread but everyone raved about it. The bread is baked fresh daily.

Everyone ordered their own entree. I tasted the veal liver with boozy sauce and the scallops. Both were excellent. I didn’t taste the rabbit or salmon. As for my own entree, I opted to have the blini with gravalox and lemon dressing salad instead of a heavy entree.

Then came the desserts — There were profiteroles, beignets with a chocolate dipping sauce, fruit tarts, and chocolate pot de creme; this tasted like a thrillingly rich old-fashioned chocolate pudding.  I chose the braised pears with chocolate almond sauce; it was light but not lite.

We went on a Monday and because of the Accenture Golf Tournament or maybe just because Tucsonans were hungry for a moderately priced new French restaurant — it was mostly full.

I hope the excitement continues. I look forward to returning and bringing friends with me.

The food is regional French home cooking, unpretentious but delicious just the same. Bon jour.


  1. We tried a it week or so ago….and I’m sorry to report it was one of the worst dining experiences we’ve had in Tucson … the food was far below what we had experienced with this chef in the past (admittedly, it is not the Ventana Room). But even granting that it has just opened and will likely take some time to settle down (if it lasts long enough for that to happen)….. there were lots of issues with our meal…starting with a completely clueless waitress who did not know the menu, some very strange dishes that tasted horrible (that’s a generous description) and a finally, a chef that argued about our evaluation of the food.

    One of our dining companions spoke to Phillipe about our considerable disappointment….and after emphatically telling her how ‘delicious’ everything was … she could see she was making no headway. She suggested that perhaps a voucher for a future meal might be in order…. to his credit he ‘comped’ our food…but lost out on the chance to have us return for a second try … I “never say never” … .but this may be an exception.

  2. I went back to Bistro Phillipe.

    I took a friend for her birthday.

    Neither of us were that hungry so we shared two appetizers — the shrimp remoulade stuffed into a half avocado. I really enjoy this appetizer as it’s refreshing. I think of it as a feminine appetizer; I cannot imagine any guys I know ordering it.

    We also had the turkey with gruyere sauce; the sauce is good for dipping the homemade bread.

    We each had a salad. Hers had frisee and I had the blini salad which was what I ordered during my last visit. The salad was still good. I doubt if anyone else in Tucson makes this salad with lettuces, generous slices of smoked salmon (gravalax) with a blini and a lemony dressing. Think of the blini has a big French crouton.
    I took half the salad home and ate it the next day; it was a bit soggy but it still tasted good.

    Our finale was the apple tartin, suitable for sharing. It wasn’t rich like some desserts and had just the right amount of sweet with fruit balance.

    I despise when people make snap judgments ten minutes after a restaurant is open saying that they will never go back. Wait three months and let the problems be addressed.

  3. I have been to Bistro Phillipe a hand full of times and each time was more fun than the last. My only complaint is the weak wine selection which Phillipe bragged about hand selecting. At one point he asked, “what are you drinking?” I had ordered the only merlot on the list so I was surprised (and confused) when he followed up with “which one?” Another time, I sampled a few appetizers and enjoyed each of them. I also tried the Aqua Pumpkin Pinot Noir and was very pleased. On other visits I tasted the jumbo scallops and pork belly and have no complaints what-so-ever.

    I’ve seen a lot of reviews on this restaurant and people frequently complain about Phillipe’s personality. He’s European. That’s all I can say. I am good friends with the manager, Christophe, and have subsequently been introduced (a few times) to Phillipe. I can see how people would consider him brash and uncaring but that is simply his character. He is proud of his work and takes it seriously. Maybe others shouldn’t be so sensitive.

    Additionally, when dining anywhere in Europe it is an affair to savor. Laissez-faire is more their style and that is the vibe that is carried into this establishment. Relax, don’t be afraid to laugh, have a drink or two, and enjoy yourself. Rushing isn’t necessary.

  4. Our experience at Bistro Phillipe:

    Our dining group chose to try Bistro Phillipe, billed as a 5-star dining experience. Our group made reservations for 20. We gathered in the bar

    at 6:00pm. First impression, bar was nice, the ambience seemed nice, drinks were served timely. Then we adjourned to our dining room at 6:30pm

    where we were ordered some wine. Our bar tab had not be closed out, so we inquired whether we should pay or whether it would be transferred to

    our dining check.

    Our server seemed friendly, advised us of the specials and gave us a few moments to look over the menu while we waited for our drinks.

    Unfortuntely, the management only alotted one server for our group, so placing orders took some time. The rest of the restaurant was fairly

    quiet, few patrons, so additional help should have been available.

    We ordered all of our courses, except dessert. We tried the mussels in the white wine and garlic butter reduction. The mussels were good although

    they left several closed shells in the bowl (a sign of either under cooking or dead before). While we enjoyed our appetizers, the bar tabs were

    distributed for an awkward moment during our meal. This should have waited til the end of the meal or closed them before we left the bar.

    Our entrees arrived about 7:45pm, not all entrees were ready or delivered at the same time. Some entrees were incorrectly ordered, some items

    were not available and we weren’t informed until after orders started arriving. Service was extremely slow. We ordered soups and ceasar salads.

    The soups were lobster and crab bisque, and leek vegetable soup. We assumed the soups would be somewhat hearty, but we got pureed warmed liquid,

    and not at all extraordinary. The salads were good.

    One gentlemen in our party ordered lamb pie and got a rack of lamb instead. He did not recieve his lamb pie until most of the other diners were

    nearly finished with their entrees. He received no discount or compensation for the error.

    At this point, about 8:30, we asked our server if we should order our desserts to ensure timely delivery. We received our desserts around 9:15pm.

    We ordered coffee and espresso. THe coffee came in a timely manner but the espresso was brought luke warm, instead of piping hot. THe desserts

    were unimpressive and inconsistent to say the least. Those who had beignets, described them as doughy and not hot enough. THe crepe suzettes were

    wonderful, but the profiteroles were okay, not impressive.

    We asked for our checks, and waited, waited and waited. Checks were delivered to the other table only to be gathered as there was an error on

    every check. Our checks were delivered and then gathered with our cards. Four of us had to help the server identify our tickets and credit cards

    as they lost track of the order. Another server returned our cards and checks and handed them to us to figure our whose card belonged to whom,

    rather than asking by name.

    Only once early on during this entirely unacceptable and chaotic ordeal did the manager ask how everything was. After realizing our

    dissatifaction and disappointment he made himself very scarce and unhelpful. The real issue here is not with the food or the server, but the

    management. There was no support for the staff whatsoever. While Phillipe’s culinary experience and expertise should be lauded, the management of

    this establishment was heinous and atrocious at best. Typically restaurants want customers to return. Diners should be made to feel welcome and

    appreciated, however we were made to feel as though we should feel priviledged for sub-par cuisine and service. To be touted as a 5-star dinng

    experience the entire evening was a disappointment. This experience was like a bad episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen on steroids. Sorry

    but we will neither return nor recommend.

Leave a Reply